We all know that getting your kids to go to sleep can be something of an uphill battle. Whether they say they are not tired or refuse to go to bed at a certain time, we know that this is going to cause problems when the next morning rolls around. Just as getting enough sleep is extremely important for adults, it’s even more vital for kids and plays a huge role in the development of their brains.
If you are at your wit’s end and don’t know what to do, here are a few techniques you could try out to help your kids get that all important sleep and stop yourself from going totally insane!
Set A Bedtime and Stick To It
Your kids’ bedtime will vary depending on how old they are, but when you set a time, you should keep it consistent every evening. This helps to get your kids into a routine so they can work out how long they have got before having to head up to bed. Remember that kids need between 9 and 12 hours sleep a night so work out their bedtime based on this. Though you may allow them to stay up a little later sometimes, don’t let this become a habit. Be firm with enforcing their regular bedtime.
Set A Wake Up Time
Just as your kids have a bedtime they need to stick to, they should also have a wake up time. Though this can be a little bit more flexible on weekends and holidays, remember that it will be much more difficult to get them to go to bed in the evening if they have slept for too long in the morning. As your child gets older you will need to adjust this timing depending on how much sleep they need.
Keep the Bedtime Routine the Same
This is especially important for toddlers and younger kids. Whether this routine involves a bath or bedtime story, you should make sure you keep this up every evening as it helps your kids know what’s coming next and prepare themselves for sleep. Make sure all the activities are relaxing and it is more likely that your child’s body will naturally start to become tired once the routine begins. Having a bedtime routine is something that has been shown to work in both adults and children alike.
Turn Off the TV Before Bed
Try to get your kids to take part in other activities right before bed other than watching TV or playing computer games. Scientific research has shown that the light from the screen can interfere with the production of the hormone melatonin which regulates our sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin levels need to be high so that your kids feel sleepy and ready for bed. Though they may protest, try switching off the TV at least an hour before bedtime and see what sort of an impact this has on them.
Reduce Stress Levels
Just as it’s much more difficult to sleep if you feel stressed about something, it is also much more difficult for your child. This is down to another hormone called cortisol which is well known as being the “stress hormone”. When levels are high, it’s much more difficult to drift off to sleep, and you are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night. If your child is worried about something, encourage them to talk to you and try to come up with solutions to the problem. Before they are going to bed, make sure the lights are dim and the environment is comfortable. Anything that helps to promote relaxation is a good thing.
Create A Sleepy Environment
Your child’s bedroom should be as conducive to sleep as possible. Make sure their bed is comfortable. Do some research online to find the best child and toddler beds. Choose some soft sheets for them and make sure they have enough duvets and blankets during wintertime. Remove any technology or other items which are likely to lead to overstimulation. You may want to invest in some room-darkening shades to block out the light. Allow them one or two soft toys if this is something that helps them.
Keep Their Room Cool
It’s easier to sleep in an environment that is too cool rather than too warm. We’ve all been there when you visit a hot country and you find it impossible to nod off. Don’t bundle your children up too tightly before bed, but make sure they have easy access to blankets so they can throw them over themselves if they get too cold.
Protect Them From Monsters
It’s inevitable that at some point, monsters are going to make their way under the bed. There’s nothing you can do to stop them! But you can reassure your child that they are in their mind and nothing is coming to get them while they sleep. If this doesn’t work, you can have a couple of special toys stand guard to make sure that the monsters stay under the bed where they belong!
Avoid Food and Drink Before Bed
Though little snacks may be okay, avoid giving your child anything too heavy before bed as this is more likely to keep them up during the night. Similarly, make sure they don’t have too much to drink as this is more likely to get them up needing to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.
Look Out For Sleep Disorders
If, despite all your best efforts to get them to drift off to sleep, your child is still struggling, it may be the case that they have some sort of sleep disorder. If you think this may be the case, talk to your child’s pediatrician to see if there’s anything they can do to help.
These are just a few things you can experiment with to make sure your children get the sleep they need. It’s a challenge we all face as parents so remember you’re not alone!